LET'S TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT OUR TOILET FACILLITIES
Food and water are inevitably integral part of our lives. A healthy living requires a constant access to clean water and balanced food. They are necessities which people could go any extent to have. One other important part of our lives which largely as Africans, we haven’t really given much attention to is the disposal of our human excreta; something we can’t do without. A tour around communities would reveal a rather poor state of scarce toilet facilities.
Limited availability of places of convenience has, for years now, made some people resort to inappropriate places like the beaches, bushes and garters. For members of my community, a suburb of Accra (Ghana), open defecation, either at the beach or the bush becomes a suitable option. Elderly persons and children go to those places to avoid joining long queues and seeing filthy things before one leaves for work or school. Children, who manage to get to public toilets without money, are often sacked. Even when they manage to get to the facility and join queues, some adults usually overtake them claiming their reputation and dignity will be at stake should it happen that they soil themselves.
My interaction with some pupils in four public basic schools in some parts of Accra revealed that, students are required to carry gallons of water along to school before allowed to use school toilet facilities. Other schools do not have any toilet facility at all. According to A Situation Analysis of Ghanaian Children and Women launched by United Nations Children Fund, only 48 percent of primary schools in Ghana had access to adequate toilet facilities as at 2010. The situation according to recent reports hasn’t really changed. When nature calls, especially during class lessons; pupils are compelled to walk for some time to a nearest toilet facility. In the process, they lose out on important class lessons. Some students also use this situation as basis for playing truancy.
A child’s right to education, as stipulated in article 28 and 29 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, requires that children benefit from school work. Provision of toilet facilities in schools would go a long way to ensure quality education and thereby, the enjoyment of the right mentioned.
We cannot under estimate the effects of limited availability and accessibility to toilet facilities. The discomfort that stomach down turn alone brings, especially when toilet facility is a bit far, is enough for us to acknowledge the need to establish one in our various houses. I call on various Central and Federal(local) governments to enact or enforce laws which would require each household to have a toilet facility. When this happens, the pressure on public toilet facilities will reduce.
The media, as the mouthpiece of society, shouldn’t just limit sensitization programmes on the need for improved toilet facilities to the celebration of World Toilet Day. It should be an on-going process until we see an improvement in sanitation and toilet facilities in particular.
As we think of what to eat, so we must think of how to properly dispose what becomes the faeces. If you are not infected, you are affected in one way or the other. Recent cholera outbreak in Ghana was largely, as a result of poor sanitation. There is the need for individuals, land lords and local authorities to establish or improve already existing toilet facilities and make them sustainable.
For all young people, especially children, hand washing with clean, running water and soap should constantly be practiced. At least, that would place us on a safer side until we get the means to or our parents and leaders come in to make toilet facilities available, accessible and convenient for us.